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The World's Best Festivals

A window into the living human museum of festival life. Learn more about the most diverse gatherings and iconic spectacles of our time at

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Oppikoppi: Nude Olympics, red dusty camping, thorny African scrub, oh, and lots of South African bands jamming in the veld.

Ultra Music Festival: Hundreds of thousands descend on Miami in late March for the Winter Music Conference—and it's much coveted closing party, the Ultra Music Festival.

Hay Festival: Celebrate a love of reading, writing, ideas and storytelling. Bill Clinton, who was a Hay speaker back in 2001, dubbed this eco-friendly magnet for liberals and progressives “the Woodstock of the mind.”

Donauinselfest: The largest open-air music festival in all of Europe featuring thousands of acts on a man-made island for three days of eclectic performances.

Copper's Hill Cheese-Rolling: A spirited gathering of people who chase a wheel of cheese down a 295-foot hill in the English countryside. How can that not be entertaining?

Paleo Festival: Most festivals relegate themselves to weekends, but Swtizerland's Paleo extends the music into a (practically) week long extravaganza of music, partying and the arts.

Bali Spirit Festival: Bali Spirit is one of those festivals that will inspire and energize you for months to come and you're likely to make a handful of new best friends at this festival built on camaraderie.

Equinox at Chichen Itza: Witness the arrival of the Mayan god, Kukulcan, as the feathered snake appears to crawl down a pyramid at Chichen Itza.

Reggae Sumfest: Attend the reigning king of reggae festivals.

Electric Picnic: Picture the Irish countryside blooming under a blessed summer sun, plus a kickass musical lineup tucked into a manageable size, and you've got Electric Picnic.

Holi: Join the masses during the last lunar cycle of the winter, when the streets are awash with pigment in an effort to welcome in spring and break down social barriers.

SXSW: SXSW has evolved from a small indie film fest into the preeminent conference-slash-festival, highlighting the latest in the film, music, and tech industries.

Melt! Germany really knows how to throw a dance party. Held amidst giant machines, Melt! showcases some of the best tech DJs from across Europe.

Air Guitar World Championships: The Air Guitar Championships gives everyone the chance to rock a crowd without having to master an instrument—no guitar required!

Splendour In The Grass: Hip, groovy festival with tons of music, deejays, crafts, food, yoga, teepees, massages, workshops and, of course, circus performers.

Hajj: Muslims’ quest to Mecca is the most important moment of their spiritual lives, and an unparalleled sight.

Mendoza Grape Harvest Festival: Imagine fireworks, wine queens, dancing, and lots and lots of wine, set against the foothills of the Andes, and you've got Grape Harvest Festival.

AfrikaBurn: While just 10-15% as large as its mother event, Burning Man, AfrikaBurn is a festival-on-the-rise that's attracting more and more visitors from more than 50 countries around the world.

Mardi Gras: Over-consumption, ribaldness, and revelry are key features, and few places do it like New Orleans.

Battle of the Oranges: How does the ancient town of Ivrea, Italy celebrate its freedom during carnival? By pummelling each other with 500,000 kilograms of oranges, of course.

Rio Carnival: Mix pagan ritual, tribal beats, indigenous dress, a pre-Lenten celebration, and several million people in the sexiest city on Earth to make the hottest party of the year.

Maha Shivaratri: This transcendent Hindu festival with a carnival-like atmosphere in the lowlands of the Himalayas is one of the more culturally fascinating events in the world.

Chicago Bluesfest: Enjoy the varied sounds of a wealth of blues musicians at the Chicago Blues Festival. It’s not the Blues Brothers—it’s better.

Banff Snow Days: In Banff National Park's winter wonderland, celebrate the best of snowy fun, sports and food for an entire month.

World Bodypainting Festival: The weird and wonderful world of body art. Although the name divulges what goes on, there is far more to this visual treasure trove than you might think.

Monterey Jazz Festival: The Monterey Jazz Festival assembles a can't-lose music festival weekend from the galaxy of jazz greats.

Lollapalooza: Lollapalooza still packs in a whole 'lotta crazy alt-rock and straight up rock and roll fun, more than 20 years later.

Carnevale di Viareggio: Viareggio comes alive when thousands of costumed revelers parade elaborately decorated floats and huge, towering characters past a million spectators.

Hadaka Matsuri: Ten thousand men rushing from a ritual purification in frozen water to a Shinto temple to nab sacred sticks, this festival is so bizarre, it will have you saying, “Only in Japan.”

Splore Festival: What makes one music festival stand apart from any other? In this case, how about floating in the South Pacific during the day, and dancing, fully costumed, to live music at night?

The Scottish Highland Games: Centuries old competitions measure a man's and a woman's strength and Scottish character.

Jaisalmer Desert Festival: With events such as camel racing, turban tying, and the longest mustache competition, this quirky Indian festival showcases the cultural wonders of Rajasthan.

Kentucky Derby: The first jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown is known for being "The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports."

Oktoberfest: Strap on your lederhosen and tap your beer­-guzzling inner self: Munich’s Oktoberfest is a modern­ day bacchanal and the world’s biggest fair.

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras: Head Down Under to Sydney to immerse yourself in glittery revelry that meets–and at times exceeds–the spirit and energy of Pride in San Francisco.

Yi Peng & Loy Krathong: If Yi Peng isn't already on your bucket list, scribble it on. Along with Loy Krathong, it contains vivid, life-enhancing moments you'll never forget.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival: In a blaze of luminous glory that marks the new Lunar New Year, 100,000 to 200,000 sky lanterns emblazon a full moonlit sky.

Tapati Rapa Nui: For two weeks each year, Easter Island comes to life with music and dance, traditional sports and competitions, feasts and fireworks.

Chinese New Year: Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated global holidays. This two-week feast takes the cake for the most spectacular of Chinese festivities.

Up Helly Aa: This winter festival brings the heat—literally. Up Helly Aa, Europe’s largest fire festival, is about more than just flames; it’s a cultural celebration of Nordic heritage and ritual.

Comic-Con: Nobody is too geeky to hit this monstrous convention that embraces comics and other popular art forms.

Tet Nguyen Dan: The most important celebration in the Vietnamese calendar, marking the arrival of spring and the start of a new year.

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering: Weather-worn, tough as nails and…hopelessly romantic? Each year the cowboy masses gather in Nevada to recite poetry inspired by their rugged lifestyle.

Rainbow Serpent Festival: Feel connected with the land as the Australian aboriginals have done for thousands of years through music, dance and art at the Rainbow Serpent Festival.

Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival: When it comes to macho throwdowns, the Super Bowl's got nothing on Kirkpinar, a greased-up wrestling match that is said to be the world's oldest annual sporting event.

Bonnaroo: It's hard to believe that a music festival attended by over 80,000 people held on 700 acres in the middle of nowhere could be an intimate experience.

  • Antisparkle

    I've gone the past 2 years and I love it. The people are so nice.

Timket: Faithful followers gather around medieval ruins at dawn for a ritual reenactment of the Epiphany.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, taking place most of August each year, packing theaters, pubs, and streets making a massive canvas of human creativity.

Sundance Film Festival: North America’s most famous film festival is a compelling combination of show, snow, and showbiz, equally popular with intellectuals and the pop-culture paparazzi.

Coachella: Once a year, diehard music fans transform the desert of SoCal into an oasis of harmony, art, and fun in the sun.

Québec Winter Carnival: With an outdoor amusement park, ice slides, dogsled rides, parades and more, there are more than enough reasons to bundle up and go out to play at this winter festival.

The Village Halloween Parade: Picture Times Square at rush hour. Take that chaos, multiply it by 10, dress it up, add music and giant puppets, transfer it Downtown, and you’ve got the Village Halloween Parade.

Burning the Clocks: A magical procession of brightly lit lanterns to mark the winter solstice culminating in an epic fireball on Brighton beach.

Sapporo Snow Festival: Ice and snow sculptures, snowboarding, and winter foods—it’s an extreme winter experience, rendered Japanese style.

World Bog Snorkeling Championships: If you think snorkeling is a bore, jump in and see what you think of a murky bog snorkeling race in Wales.

Fantasy Fest: If you’re a fun-loving hedonist who enjoys a masquerade party, Fantasy Fest and its 10-day revelry will be your Costume Ironman.

WOMAD: Peter Gabriel’s brainchild brings rarely heard or seen regional music and arts together to form a traveling showcase for the world, creating international stars from surprising places.

Junkanoo: Nassua's all-night party parade with the color, music, passion, and cultural flair to compete with any carnival around the world.

Kiruna Snow Festival: Shake those post-Christmas blues at Europe's largest snow festival. Kiruna transforms into a winter paradise complete with nature's breathtaking Northern Lights.

Roskilde Festival: One of the original large-scale music fests in Europe, Roskilde has been rocking since 1971. Attendees arrive early to camp, swim, and run naked.

Navratri: The feminine divine form is celebrated with candle lit processions, cooking, dancing, singing, water & sky lanterns, and even burning effigies of evil.

KaZantip: KaZantip is a wild, colorful, creative, and sexy weeks-long beach party on the Black Sea.

Electric Forest Festival: Faeiries wander through a forest of pink illuminated trees, neon jellyfish flit in the sky, and bumping beats pulsate through your body. You're not on acid (or are you?).

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival: A temporary city, sculptures, and works of chilly art—all made from ice—are scattered throughout Harbin during this colorful two-month event each January and February.

Dinagyang: Join this dazzling, dizzying celebration of color and movement that welcomes all with warm hearts and dancing feet.

Haro Wine Festival: Haro, a charming town in Spain's La Rioja region, is most famous for it full-flavored vino tinto, and the intoxicating festival that celebrates this luscious libation.

Melbourne Cup: Touted as the race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup is an iconic Australian horse race that exudes all the glitz and glamor of a Hollywood premiere.

Street Parade Zurich: Inspired by Berlin's Love Parade, Zurich has created a day-long moveable feast for those hungry for music, dancing and good vibes.

Ibiza Closing Parties: The Mediterranean islands off of Spain have long been a mecca for sun and beats worshipers.

Combat des Reines: The Swiss Alps aren't just for skiing and yodeling. Come spring and fall, bovines take to the ring and battle it out for the cow crown in the Combat des Reines.

Wanderlust Festival: More than just a yoga festival, Wanderlust combines natural beauty with fun activities, epic musical performances, organic food and inspiring lectures.

SantaCon: Crank up the holiday spirit by dressing as Santa for a pub crawl with thousands of your closest Santa friends.

Mevlana Whirling Dervishes: Since Rumi's death in 1273, the Mevlevi Order has been commemorating him with a 10-day festival that brings even casual observers closer to a sense of the divine.

Nowhere: A global gathering with art at its heart, Nowhere is a wild party with a purpose: live in the moment and seize the opportunity to find personal growth in the midst of a good time.

Camel Cup: A strange race in a strange place, the Lasseter’s Camel Cup features jockeys on camels in this annual event.

Réveillon: Before midnight, families and friends gather for more traditionally European New Year’s Eve meals, but at midnight...BOOM!

Art Basel Miami: Take in multiple art shows, many with truly affordable (and forward thinking) pieces for sale.

Diwali: An ancient celebration with deeply spiritual roots, this is a Festival of Lights.

Guru Nanak Jayanti: This is one of the grandest and most visual celebrations in India, marking the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism & the first of the ten Sikh gurus.

Bumbershoot: When is a festival not a festival? When it’s multiple festivals happening at once.

Iceland Airwaves: Take the hipster rock of SXSW, shrink it down, move it way north, put it on ice and you have Iceland Airwaves.

Lopburi Monkey Banquet: Three thousand macaques tuck into a lavish feast that includes two tons of fresh produce, rice, ice cream, & other treats. Once the first banana is thrown, the rest isn't far behind.

  • Silver Rider

    Monkey will see them everywhere (on the road, roof & ground) at Lopburi.

Tango Buenos Aires Festival: If there’s one thing Argentina is known for, it’s tango.

Carnevale di Venezia: Wander Venice’s waterways and alleyways concealed behind a Bauta, Moretta, Volto, or other classic masks during a ten-day pre-Lenten celebration.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: Come see 750 gas and hot-air balloons, floating gracefully in a Technicolor ballet above the serene New Mexico landscape.

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Thaipusam: We’re all on a journey for truth, but sometimes the truth hurts. In a self-sacrificing journey, devotees pierce their skin as penance for answered prayers.

  • Peggy Mitchell

    This is the most amazing festival. I saw it in Penang, Malaysia in 1973--an absolute eye-opener for a 15 yr old.

  • Carol Evans

    Katie, fancy meeting u here! I love Pinterest...

  • Pamila Faye

    I was here in 2010 and yes watch out for the monkeys as they will come right at you! Beautiful view from the top!

  • Kate Evans

    Thank you all for sharing.

  • Elaine Kingman

    My friends and I tried to go up to the top, but the monkeys were too aggressive, so we gave up.

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Bestival: Revelers catch ferries to England’s largest island in the English Channel to officially close out the UK summer festival season.

St. Patrick's Day: Gallons of Guinness meet lucky leprechauns and joyous revelers for a feel-good celebration of all things Irish.

Frontier Days: Each year, Cheyenne, Wyoming goes back to its Old West roots with ten days of ropin' and ridin' at the Daddy of 'Em All, Frontier Days.

Thrissur Pooram

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Songkran: Rooted in Buddhist tradition, the purification ritual of sprinkling statues of the Buddha with water has evolved into a three-day countrywide water fight.

  • Silver Rider

    Bangkok : City of Life...You will love Bangkok...Happy Life in & night

Dia de los Muertos: For many, the experience of losing a loved one is a private practice. For Mexicans, however, death is a fact of life, celebrated through a dedication to the deceased.

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Notting Hill Carnival: Notting Hill is a mix of family-friendly events like kids’ costume contests and parades, and more adult-fare with skimpy costumes and truck-mounted DJs.

New York City Wine & Food Festival: For four days each fall, culinary giants, celebrity chefs, mixologists, vintners and foodies unite to eat, drink and end world hunger.